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Thursday, Mar 23rd

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White House: Trump unaware of Flynn's foreign agent work

Mike Flynn registers as foreign agentPresident Donald Trump was not aware that his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had worked to further the interests of the government of Turkey before appointing him, the White House said Thursday.

The comments came two days after Flynn and his firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., filed paperwork with the Justice Department formally identifying him as a foreign agent and acknowledging that his work for a company owned by a Turkish businessman could have aided Turkey's government. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday called the action "an affirmation of the president's decision to ask General Flynn to resign."

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Tillerson recuses himself from Keystone XL issues

Tillerson recuses himself from Keystone Pipeline actionU.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from issues related to TransCanada Corp's application for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said in a letter on Thursday to the environmental group Greenpeace.

"He has not worked on that matter at the Department of State, and will play no role in the deliberations or ultimate resolution of TransCanada's application," said the letter from Katherine McManus, the State Department's deputy legal adviser.

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Three misleading claims from Paul Ryan's Obamacare lecture

Ryans misleading statementsWith his jacket off and sleeves rolled up, House Speaker Paul Ryan made the case for the Republican health care law Thursday, walking through a 35-minute PowerPoint presentation to a packed crowd of reporters and millions of viewers watching on the three cable TV networks. It was quintessential Ryan, calmly explaining the details of the American Health Care Act looking more like a college professor than a professional politician.

But in making his case, Ryan made a series of misleading statements, both about the current state of Obamacare and the details of the replacement bill. Three stand out:

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Grapes of wrath: wine bar owners sue Trump over unfair competition

DC wine bar sues TrumpHow do you compete with a restaurant at Donald Trump’s hotel down the road from the White House? Two Washington restaurateurs argue you can’t and have sued him over it.

The plaintiffs are Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, who own Cork Wine Bar and Cork Market & Tasting Room.

They allege unfair competition under local law and have filed a lawsuit against Trump personally and the Trump Old Post Office LLC, which operates the hotel.

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Jon Huntsman, Trump’s pick for Russia ambassador, is a baffling choice

Jon HuntsmanFormer Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has been tapped to be President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Russia. And that is very, very strange.

Huntsman isn’t a Russia expert, or anything close. President Barack Obama appointed Huntsman, a Republican, to serve as ambassador to China in his first term because Huntsman speaks Mandarin and had lived in Taiwan. But he doesn’t speak Russian and he’s never spent any time living in Russia. He’s never held a position where he had to deal with Russian officials regularly or really ever had much to say about the US-Russia relationship at all.

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Authorities looked into Manafort protégé

Manafort protege being investigatedU.S. and Ukrainian authorities have expressed interest in the activities of a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence who consulted regularly with Paul Manafort last year while Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, came under scrutiny from officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department partly because of at least two trips he took to the U.S. during the presidential campaign, according to three international political operatives familiar with the agencies’ interest in Kilimnik.

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NSC staff allowed back into the Oval Office for Trump's foreign calls

McCallisterNational security adviser H.R. McMaster has invited top National Security Council staff back into the Oval Office for calls between President Donald Trump and foreign leaders, reversing a decision by his predecessor Michael Flynn to exile senior directors to the Situation Room during state calls.

For the first time since Trump took office, senior directors and country directors were present on Monday and Tuesday in the Oval alongside deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland for calls with leaders from Israel, Japan, South Korea and Kenya.

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